Remembering the monumental steps taken at USC 50 years ago

Columbia, S.C. (WACH) - Fifty years ago, three African American students made history when they climbed the steps into the Osborne building at the University of South Carolina and made history by quietly ending an era of segregation at the University.

On that day Robert Anderson, Henrie Monteith (Treadwell), and James Solomon went to class. An ordinary act that had been denied to them for far too long.

When asked for a memory that stuck out about that day, Henrie's answer wasn't so much about the classes, but more about the people at the University.

"My moments and students that stand out for me were other students who would say 'hello'. Or who would say 'let's walk to class together'. Who I don't know now. Don't know their names. But who were willing to help move history forward." recalls Monteith.

And as for James, coming to the University of South Carolina back then was nothing like the prejudice he had experienced in his lifetime up until that point.

"I went in the Air Force when it was segregated. I was in the Air Force when it was desegregated. I had been through that. I had gone through a lot of stuff. You know, a lot of racist stuff. Coming here was a piece of cake. Been through it. It didn't worry me. But I was proud of Robert and Henrie because they had not." says Solomon.

And while these three students found strength within themselves on that day, they also felt the community at Carolina stood beside them and gave them strength as well.

"People were friendly. People smiled. People were somehow, I felt, on that day in time, South Carolina decided that they were going to be different." states Monteith.

In an official ceremony Wednesday, USC President Harris Pastides dedicated a Commemorative Garden next to the Osborne building to Robert, Henrie, and James.